Thursday, September 1, 2016

59 Weeks -- The Clock Doesn't Lie or Care What You Want to Hear

For those who are both optimists and have a good imagination, when faced with a big goal or project it is tempting to see everything related to the task or project through a certain lens--usually one of how I would like things to be and not necessarily how things actually are.  Well, for the 59 Weeks project, this weekend will be a time to take off any reality-skewing lenses and see reality.  And it has me a bit nervous.

A couple of principles that drive my life are:
}Esse Quam Videri:
To be rather than to seem to be
}The Stockdale Paradox:
You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.
AND at the same time…

You must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

These principles reflect my desire to live authentically and to experience an authentic reality--whether it is hopeful or disappointing; easy or difficult; fully engaging or slogging through what needs to be done.

This weekend is the Alkek Omnium, a track race at my local velodrome here in Houston.  There are six events total and two of them are the events that fall within the boundaries of 59 Weeks--the 500m Time Trial and the 2,000m Pursuit.  I will be racing these events against the clock this weekend. There will not be any room for "how did it feel?" or "do I think I did OK?"  Instead there will be a number associated with each event.  That number will not be influenced by how I feel or what I would like the number to be.  It will be what it is--nothing more and nothing less.  And my fear is that the number will be far from my objective--perhaps very far.  Therein would lie the challenge.

But while I am a bit nervous, I am also looking forward to getting real numbers that will tell me where I am now in my performance and how far that is from where I want to be.  I want to face the most brutal facts of my current reality--whatever they may be.  Only then will I be able to work with my coach to gauge what we need to do to work from this weekend's numbers to the numbers that I want to ride in Los Angeles at the end of 59 Weeks.  I have set a target for sub-38 seconds in the 500 and 2:35 or so for the 2k Pursuit.  This weekend will show me where I really stand--not just where I hope to stand.

Monday, August 29, 2016

59 Weeks -- Would-Be Weekend Warrior to World Championships

In mid-October of 2017, the Master's World Championships in track cycling will be held in Carson, California (by Los Angeles).  I want to be there.  To race.  To ride as fast as my much-better-trained-by-then legs and heart will drive me.  And I want to do well.

There.  I wrote it in public.  It is out there for the world to see--or at least those few who read my blog.  It is my line in the sand.  And it is a bit scary.  More than a bit daunting.  But also rather flip-flopping in the stomach exciting.

59 weeks is a long time.  Not as long as an elephant's gestation period, but still seems like a long time to me.  At least a long time to have a disciplined, persistent focus on one thing.  Certainly this will not be the "one thing" that I do for the next 59 weeks.  I do have a day job and family and a few friends.  But for the next 59 weeks I want to pursue this task, this activity, this accomplishment, this endeavor, with more discipline, focus, and determination than I can recall applying to any particular task (apart from law school).  Frankly, I hope that I can do this, but I do not know.

59 weeks of focused and directed training.  59 weeks of eating to fuel the training and racing.  59 weeks of consistently being in the weight room.  59 weeks of getting at it day after day after day.

I am certain that there will be days when the last thing that I want to do is another dead lift or to get on the bike for another round of sprint intervals.  There will be days when I just want to sleep in.  Or eat a big piece of cake with ice cream.  Or "just watch."  But this is an opportunity that I do not want to pass up only to regret it later when it truly would be too late.

J.I. Packer drew the contrast between "balconeers" and travelers in Knowing God.  The balconeers sat in safe and comfortable chairs above the clamor and dust of the road below.  The balconeers had a running commentary about how the travelers could improve their journey or travel "better."  The balconeers were experts in all areas of their observations and imaginations--but they never actually went anywhere.  The travelers got tired and dirty and took the occasional wrong turn, but at least they got to experience the journey firsthand.  That is what I want from what remains of my life here on earth--to be in the mix and not on the couch.  And my place to start is the next 59 weeks.

Since moving to Houston I have been fortunate to be able to race with the NWCC (Northwest Cycling Club) Race Team and with some friendly and encouraging teammates.  A few of us are targeting the 2017 Master's Worlds and it will be great to have some other travelers to share the journey with.  

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Make America [truly] Great Again--and words DO matter

As one for whom words matter, the phrase Make America Great Again (that seems to be almost omnipresent in today's political discourse), got me thinking during my ride today.

I am not opposed to making America "great" again, but what do we mean by "great"? By great do people mean Rich? Strong? Intimidating? Better somehow than other nations? If this is what is meant by making America great, then I want none of it.

But what if instead of great riches we pursued great opportunities? Instead of great strength we exercised great compassion? Instead of great intimidation we were known for generous, welcoming civility? If you listen much to the political pundits and candidates, the United States is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave--but instead is the land of the bigoted and the home of the fearful. As for me, I want no part of Mr. Trump's "great" America.

Instead, I want an America that reflects the greatness of David Dawson, Dr. Sedlack, Dr. Cornell, and countless others who have chosen to devote their lives to teaching the next generation(s) of students that words matter and that learning is valuable. I want an America that looks like Kathy Johnson who has invested her time and money in taking music and hope to the Cuban people. I want an America that demonstrates devoted kindness to those in great need like Karen, Emme, and Maea Wistrom who put a face and words and hands to the work of Children's Hope Chest (and Jay who holds down the fort to make those trips possible). I want an America that makes choices like the Bubalos and Porwalls who had the talents and drive to pursue any career path, but have chosen lives of frugality and sacrifice so that others may hear words of hope and opportunity. I want an America that looks like Wallace King who chose, throughout his career and in retirement, to give of his time and energy for the civic good--not merely for his own advancement. I want an America that is respected and appreciated for who we are in our core character, and not mocked for the ridiculous rhetoric of our prospective "leaders".

Reader, you have your own list of people that you believe reflect the America that you desire. How about if we all do two things: 1) set the tone by developing and demonstrating this type of character for ourselves; and 2) insist that those who would represent us demonstrate these characteristics.

Remember, "the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My name is Ken Prine and I am running for Governor

What a crazy night! Sometime after midnight I started dreaming that I was running for Governor, but not of any particular state, and off and on for then next few hours (until about ten minutes ago) I was campaigning on immigration issues. So here it is.

The immigration issues that our country faces today have two main facets. First, who should be able to come to the United States legally? And Second, what do we do about folks who come to or remain in the United States illegally?

First, who can come to the United States legally? I believe that the overarching principle that we must remember is that most of us who now live here came from somewhere else. Whether we came in the mid-1600's as my family did, or in the mid-2000's as some people I know, most of us came from somewhere else. We ARE a nation of immigrants. Our forebears came to the U.S. for a variety of reasons. Some came for economic opportunity. Some came for religious freedom. Some came unwillingly. Some came to flee persecution or oppression in their home countries. But apart from those who were brought here in generations past against their will, we came here because we believed that life in the United States would be a life of greater hope and opportunity. Is this any different today?

The answer to this question is not to close our borders; or to embark on a wholesale ban of certain ethnic, economic, or religious groups; or to build walls. A part of the answer is to celebrate that the United States is still a country where those around the world who are yearning for hope and opportunity want to come. The other part of the answer is to keep/put in place processes to ensure, as much as we can, that those who are coming to the United States are coming to work hard for hope and opportunity--not to do us harm. No process will ever keep out everyone who may have harmful intent, but that is the downstream role for law enforcement. And if we fall prey to the instinct to pull up the drawbridge now that we are safely inside the castle, then I believe that we have lost something fundamental to who we are as Americans. We must have safe and secure borders while continuing to promote expansive, speedy pathways to legal immigration.

Second, what about those who come to or remain in the United States illegally? To start with, immigration enforcement questions have easy answers if there are no faces. In the abstract the answers seem straightforward to me--if a person entered the country illegally or has overstayed their expired visa, then they should go back home and enter legally if they want to come back. Think of it this way. If you operated a buffet restaurant and someone snuck in the back door, should you feel obligated to allow them to continue to eat at the buffet just because they managed to sneak in? Of course not. And if someone paid for their meal yesterday, but didn't leave when you closed the restaurant last night, should you be obligated to let them eat today and every other day that they manage to not leave your restaurant? Of course not! But should either of these people be thrown in jail? Should you never let them eat in your restaurant again? Of if they pay for the meals that they ate, and agree to pay for any meals that they eat in the future, might they be some of your best customers in the long run?

And what if the reason that the person snuck into or stayed in your restaurant was because they believed that was the only way they could get food for their family? Does that change the outcome?

The current Republican frontrunners' positions to simply "build a wall" and kick out everyone who is here illegally are both shortsighted and impractical. I believe that if we are going to address the issue of people who are in the United States illegally, we need to create a process and an environment that does not drive people further underground, but that gives hope that they can have a better life by pursuing legal immigration status. If someone thinks that folks will "self-deport" just because some politician says they should, or that a wall will actually keep people out, that person does not understand human nature very well. If someone thinks that they can send immigration enforcers out across the country to drag 11 million people to the border kicking and screaming--without causing massive social unrest far more harmful than the illegal immigration issue--that person should wake up from their daydream.

Am I suggesting amnesty? Not really. Amnesty means ignoring past conduct--a no blood, no foul mindset. I am not suggesting that past misconduct should be ignored, but instead that it should be only one of several factors in what steps should be taken to become a legal immigrant. Those steps could include paying fines, paying back taxes, community service, or--in some cases--deportation and a return to the person's home country to start the legal immigration process. One thing is for sure. If we are going to address the immigration issue in a civil, humane, and American way we will need to invest resources in personnel, processes, and technology to enhance border security/entry; to monitor visa status of those who are legitimately here on a short term visa; and to process the cases of those who are currently here illegally.

Thanks for hanging in this long. That is my campaign stump speech on immigration. I can only hope that tomorrow night I can dream about camping or bike racing, or you may be able to read my stump speech on a different issue tomorrow. And just to be clear--I am not running for Governor.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Embarrassed to be a "Republican"

I have been registered as a Republican for my entire voting life. And most of the time my outlook on life has more closely aligned with Republicans than with Democrats. Yet, as a limited government, fiscal conservative, social moderate--whatever those terms mean in 2016--I feel very misaligned with where I see the Republican party heading. Those who know my visceral support and pursuit of decency and civility may think that this "rant" will be about Donald Trump. And while that course of action would be justified, this post has little to do with Mr. Trump. Instead, this is related to the current Supreme Court vacancy.

The Senate leadership--specifically Senators McConnell and Grassley--are making a mockery of the Constitution and their Constitutional responsibilities. The President's job is to put forward a nominee and the Senate's job is to either confirm or not confirm--period. This nonsense of "giving the American people a say" is nothing more than empty pandering. The Constitution does NOT give the American people a say. This is an enumerated responsibility that is set at the feet of the President and the Senate. Beyond that, if it had been Justice Ginsberg who had passed away or retired, I cannot conceive of a universe where the Senate Republican leadership would be refusing to even consider a nominee.

The Senate has a job here and if they are unwilling to do their job, then--if they were public servants of conscience--they would resign. Or at the very least, not be returned to office by the voters in their states. For me, this November I will not cast a vote in favor of any Senator who refuses to consider a Supreme Court nominee or any Senator or House member who supports not even considering President Obama's nominee.

If I went to my boss and told him, "No matter what you ask me to do that is listed in my job description I will not do it" I might be given a moment to reconsider such a rash statement. And if I persisted I would be fired--and would deserve no sympathy or support. I would clearly be on the moral low ground. If the President told Congress, "I will veto every bill you pass, no matter what it is" there would be resounding calls for his impeachment. How is the Senate's obstinacy any different?

The current Senate Republican leaders are setting themselves up to fail in their core Constitutional responsibilities. If they continue down this obstructionist path, they should not be allowed to continue to serve. They all took an oath. An oath to defend the Constitution. Perhaps they need to take a close look in the mirror and answer the question--How will you defend the Constitution from yourself?